• Everything But Imaginary #375: The Hammer Falls Again

    Roger Langridge, Chris SamneeOnce again, my friends, itís happened. Iíve found a new comic book I loved, Iíve given my heart to it, and now Iím going to have to watch it slowly die. Iím talking, of course, about Thor: The Mighty Avenger. You know that already, though, right? You were along for the ride, you were eagerly awaiting each issue, you were gushing over the gorgeous artwork of Chris Samnee and marveling (no pun intended) over the fantastic scripts by Roger Langridge, including such exciting and often unexpected guest-stars as the Warriors Three, Namor, Captain Britain, and (soon) Iron Man? You know what Iím talking about, right?

    Of course you donít. If more of you did, the book wouldnít even be getting chopped.

    When a precious book is cancelled, the gut reaction is to lash out against the publisher, and to a degree thereís some justification in that. You can ask if they did everything they could to support the book, everything they could to promote it, everything they could to get the word out, everything they could to convince the new readers to give the book a try. And if you donít think the publisher did do everything possible, it can be infuriating. But sometimes they make every possible effort to sustain a book and, despite that, it fails just because not enough people are buying it, and this is a business, damn it. Every editor whoís been in comics more than a minute has had to break the news to a writer and artist team that their pet title just wasnít pulling in the numbers. Itís a shame, it flat-out sucks, but itís a fact of the business.

    This happens an awful lot, of course. In the past few years weíve seen some really magnificent comics struggle and fall due to lack of sales Ė Manhunter, Atlas, Blue Beetle, Monolith, Captain Britain and MI 13 and Dan Slottís short but precious run on The Thing all come immediately to mind. I know a few people Ė and Iím lookiní at you, Walt Kneeland Ė who will often resist trying out even the best-reviewed title under the assumption that either it will be collected in trade and they can catch up or that it will be cancelled and then leave them missing another great book. I can understand that mindset, but itís a self-fulfilling prophecy. If too many of the people who would enjoy a comic decide not to purchase it, it wonít make enough money to survive and theyíll never have the chance to enjoy it when it reaches round two.

    Comics are a lot like television shows in this respect. People are so used to great shows (coughFireflycough) getting the axe before even a full season that they donít even want to try a show that first year or two. As a result, some great shows struggle and falter and sometimes just plain go away. (Devotees of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, I feel your pain.) Itís a natural impulse, a natural fear. Once a person has had their heart broken enough times, theyíre terrified to let anybody else in for fear of having it broken again. But my friends, if you wall yourselves off from the world youíll never find true happiness. Go out there, take a chance, at least for an issue or two. (Or an episode. You know how this works.) I know itís a risk. But if it will lead you took a book like Thor: The Mighty Avenger, thatís a risk worth taking.

    Roger Langridge, Chris SamneeOkay, thatís the message for the reticent reader. Which, now that I think about it, would be an awesome name for a C-list, educational superhero. ďThe Reticent Reader, armed with stacks of Tolstoy and Melville, prepares to charge into the den of Illiteracy with his battle cry: ĎSoooooÖ anybody want a story?íĒ You see, if they were publishing books like this, they would never get cancelled. Ahem. Anyway, letís talk about those of us who already take a chance on these low-tier comics should be doing. Itís really pretty simple, guys: talk them up. Every one of you who was upset about the news about this titleís cancellation Ė or for that matter, any other worthwhile title that got the plug pulled because of low sales Ė ask yourself how many people you talked about the book to. I know, itís easy for me. I write a column, I write reviews, I have a podcast that (when last I checked the stats) was listened to by literally tens of people last week alone. Iíve got a platform that many of you donít. But youíve got friends. Youíve got Twitter and Facebook. You talk to people in comic shops. This is your opportunity, guys.

    Donít be obnoxious about it, of course, but a casual comment can be the first step to putting a bug in somebodyís ear. Give a tweet or two a week to comics you think deserve it. ďThis weekís issue of Atlas was great,Ē for example. Use that to kick off the conversation. Take it from there. Do the same on Facebook. Hell, start a thread here at CX, or join in the conversation if there already is one. If your friends have a book they wonít shut the hell up about, make a deal with Ďem Ė youíll read an issue of their title if theyíll read an issue of yours.

    Truth is, if everybody who enjoyed Thor: The Mighty Avenger had tried to get just one more person reading, it may have had enough of a boost to stick around for a while. And the same goes for a lot of those books I mentioned before. The moral is clear Ė next time you love a book, donít wait until itís cancelled to tell people. Start spreading the word before itís too late.

    Favorite of the Week: November 10, 2010

    Hereís a book that doesnít particularly need my help, but it was easily my favorite single issue released last week Ė the surprisingly effective Justice League: Generation Lost #13. Maxwell Lord, along with the other 11 people resurrected by the White Lantern, was given a task to accomplish to have his life fully restored. Continuing with his plan, Max has turned his power on Magog and given him a singular mission Ė kill Captain Atom. This a major issue, friends, and not in the fake out sense. Something happens thatís pretty big, and even if you donít think the event itself is a big deal, the repercussions for the cast of this title are huge. Judd Winick has done a wonderful job with this cast, forging them into a reluctant team, giving Jaime Reyes a place where he seems to belong for a reason besides just being a teenage superhero, rekindling the classic Fire/Ice relationship, and turning a new Rocket Red into a wonderfully entertaining character. More than ever, I find myself hoping that once this title ends DC gives Winick these characters to play with in an ongoing series. Itís been some time since anyone used the title Justice League International, after all.

    Blake M. Petit is the author of the superhero comedy novel, Other Peopleís Heroes, the suspense novel The Beginner and the Christmas-themed eBook A Long November. Heís also the co-host, with whoever the hell is available that week, of the 2 in 1 Showcase Podcast and the weekly audio fiction podcast Blake M. Petitís Evercast. E-mail him at BlakeMPetit@gmail.com and visit him on the web at Evertime Realms. Read past columns at the Everything But Imaginary Archive Page.
    Comments 3 Comments
    1. Where Is Tony's Avatar
      Where Is Tony -
      Generation lost, started good but the Ice retcon makes no sense and does not fit into any continuity. At best it is a trick from max, but then whats the point?
    1. Dr. Orlando's Avatar
      Dr. Orlando -
      That's just effing wrong. This was the only Thor book worth the money. Why does everything I love (Spidey Loves MJ, Runaways, Secret Warriors, Planetary, She-Hulk, MI13) have to turn to ash? Is it because they're actually FUN books, and fun doesn't sell when there's a dozen Deadpool/Wolverine/Batman/Blackest-Greenest-Whitest-WTFEverTimeOfDay books on the racks that Marvel/DC is much keener to promote?

      This industry blows goats with increasing regularity.

      Edited to add: And yes, I know I'm fulfilling Blake's prophecy with my anti-comicsco screed, but honestly -- if I walk into my LCS and they've only ordered x number of Thor: The Mighty Avenger and XXX number of Wolverine Goes to Hell, who do I rant at? They're only ordering what they think will sell, and I can't begrudge them wanting to maintain a healthy bottom line. I could try evangelizing to the few people that might be there when I stop in -- dashing in on the way home from work -- but then from all I've seen they're diehards into "their" characters, and they're not the type to experiment. So it's hard not to blame the comicos from not building up these other books/characters to the point where people might actually give 'em a try. They could do a lot worse than launching some of these new titles on Free Comic Book Day, so people don't have to pay to taste...
    1. Blake Petit's Avatar
      Blake Petit -
      You're not there to rant, good sir. And you don't have to chase anybody down. But buy your copies, ask the clerk if he's read the book, and try to start up a conversation. If your shop is anything like mine, such a conversation will invariably draw in other people to join the conversation.

      Launching these books on Free Comic Book Day would be a great idea. Smaller publishers have been much better about using FCBD to promote new titles than the Big Two.